Mike Klink, a former pipeline inspector with Bechtel, has publicly spoken out about the shoddy construction he saw on the original Keystone pipeline and what that means about the risks arising from the proposed Keystone XL expansion:
I am not an environmentalist, but as a civil engineer and an inspector for TransCanada during the construction of the first Keystone pipeline, I’ve had an uncomfortable front-row seat to the disaster that Keystone XL could bring about all along its pathway.
When I last raised concerns about corners being cut, I lost my job – but people along the Keystone XL pathway have a lot more to lose if this project moves forward with the same shoddy work.
What did I see? Cheap foreign steel that cracked when workers tried to weld it, foundations for pump stations that you would never consider using in your own home, fudged safety tests, Bechtel staffers explaining away leaks during pressure tests as “not too bad,” shortcuts on the steel and rebar that are essential for safe pipeline operation and siting of facilities on completely inappropriate spots like wetlands.
I shared these concerns with my bosses, who communicated them to the bigwigs at TransCanada, but nothing changed. TransCanada didn’t appear to care. That is why I was not surprised to hear about the big spill in Ludden, N.D., where a 60-foot plume of crude spewed tens of thousands of gallons of toxic tar sands oil and fouled neighboring fields.
TransCanada says that the performance has been OK. Fourteen spills is not so bad. And that the pump stations don’t really count. That is all bunk. This thing shouldn’t be leaking like a sieve in its first year – what do you think happens decades from now after moving billions of barrels of the most corrosive oil on the planet?
Klink says he is speaking out because his children have encouraged him to do the right thing.